Having sailed on over one hundred cruises, I have seen a great many different ships over the last three decades—across all the major standard to luxury lines.
As such, I have a pretty good idea of what would make the best cruise ship if you were to take the best elements from various vessels in the industry. Realizing that all of this is mostly subjective as a fun exercise, let’s explore what that might result in (if money, and in many cases actual space constraints, were no object, of course).
If I were to start with any ship as a base, I’d honestly have to choose something smaller with an ideal passenger space ratio, and the closest modern ship that meets my personal standards of excellence is Viking Ocean Cruises’ new Viking Star and identical sister-ships that have and will follow.
It’s an architecturally sleek design with a flying buttress-like inward superstructure and flared out upper pool deck that I find appealing.
However, I also love the classic ocean liner look of Cunard Line’s and Disney Cruise Line’s ships. So, I think I might add a dark hull and a pair of smoke stacks to give it a vintage aesthetic as well. Plus, I would build it with a deeper draft to mimic the greater stability of the Queen Mary 2.
All About the Details
As for accommodations, the Viking Star is also already a fantastic start—especially for its sizable bathroom showers that every single competitor needs to start copying immediately. While I do like the clean Scandinavian decor of the ship, I think I would personally tend to dress it up a bit more with the aesthetic likes of, say, Adam D. Tihany’s timeless designs for Holland America Line’s Koningsdam or Seabourn’s Seabourn Encore.
The Viking Star also has my favorite observation lounge at sea as a double-decker version, but I’ll have to wait and see if Norwegian Cruise Line’s at least three levels’ worth of such venues aboard its upcoming Norwegian Bliss top it at all.
The biggest thing I would change on the Star would be the show lounge, which is its weakest link with poor productions. The most spectacular theater on a ship for a more dramatic replacement would be Two70 on Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum-class ships, which as a multipurpose space would also serve as a secondary observation lounge at the stern in addition to a forward one.
I’d also want water slides onboard, choosing Disney’s AquaDuck as a premium water coaster to traverse the upper decks, but I’d still keep the Star’s great aft infinity pool overlooking the wake. I’ve also always thought it’s only a matter of time before a cruise line attempts a full-blown roller coaster at sea, so that could be included additionally.
For other entertainment, Carnival Cruise Line’s hilarious Punchliner Comedy Club would have to be included as well as Royal Caribbean’s spectacular AquaTheater shows but combined with Disney’s character and narrative prowess.
Lastly, for dining, Thomas Keller has the best cuisine at sea on Seabourn to transfer over, but the comfort food of a Guy Fieri burger on Carnival would have to join too. So, why not have both chefs onboard?
Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Line has set the model for the greatest selection of restaurants at sea, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises has managed to feature the most choices on a single menu for its main dining room. Striking a balance between the two with the help of our celebrity chefs would be the icing on the cake.